Is Exercise Addiction Real?

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It’s fairly common knowledge that frequent and consistent exercise is good for both your body and your mind. It can act as stress reliever or just an opportunity to focus on nothing but yourself and your physical effort for a while. Not only that, studies show that as little as 30 minutes a day will help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life. So what’s not to love about it? Well, the dark side of fitness shows itself when working out starts taking priority over everything else – including work, family, and friends. Exercise addiction is very much a real thing, and at its worst can actually be incredibly harmful.

Exercise Addiction And What It Means

If you’ve ever trained for a long distance running event like a half or a full marathon, you may have experienced what’s known as a “runner’s high.” It’s a euphoric feeling that’s actually triggered by endorphins released in the brain. When it’s happening, everything about the run feels effortless. You’re cruising along, not struggling at all and feeling no pain. It’s not addictive, but it can be inspiring in a way and keep you coming back for more.

Exercise addiction is beyond a naturally occurring runner’s high. It’s when you work out no matter what, and get genuinely upset if something or someone interferes with a workout. It’s when you arrange your life around your gym schedule, instead of the other way around. It’s when you decide whether it’s been a good or a bad day depending on how much you pushed yourself in the gym, and then get depressed if you decide you didn’t work hard enough.

Working out too long, too often, too hard and with too little time to recover in between actually breaks down the human body instead of building it up. Overtraining can put you on the road to chronic injury, an irregular heartbeat, and even disrupt your sleep schedule. Muscles and joints need time to rest and repair, otherwise you’re doing more harm than good. Listen to your body, and pay attention to the signs and signals it’s giving you. If you don’t, you may end up doing so much damage that you won’t be able to exercise at all.

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